PAINFUL EXPERIENCE: Robyn Robinson, of Ballina, is angry that Rex airlines wanted to charge her an extra $44 to help her get on and off her aircraft on a return flight from Sydney.
PAINFUL EXPERIENCE: Robyn Robinson, of Ballina, is angry that Rex airlines wanted to charge her an extra $44 to help her get on and off her aircraft on a return flight from Sydney. David Nielsen

Airline in hot seat over 'unfair' policy

BALLINA woman Robyn Robinson has had a difficult year battling lymphoma and severe arthritis.

So when the 63-year-old flew Rex Airlines from Sydney to Ballina after a business trip last week, she was upset to discover it would cost an extra $44 because she needed help getting on and off the plane.

“I flew down to Sydney on a different airline and I had absolutely no problems with them,” Ms Robinson said.

“They were more than happy to help me.

“But when I rang Rex before the flight to ask them for assistance, they said it would cost $22 for me to get help getting on to the plane and another $22 for help getting off.”

However, a spokeswoman for the airline said it was an 'administrative charge' which covered 'all special requirements including wheelchairs and mechanical lifts'.

“Passengers with certain special services requirements are able to indicate this in their web bookings,” she said.

“The $22 per sector per booking surcharge is only applicable when they fail to indicate this on their web bookings and subsequently call our customer contact centre to add this request on to their web bookings.

“There is no charge for our staff merely assisting passengers to and from the aircraft, or on and off the aircraft.”

But Ms Robinson said she was told a different story.

“I was told it was a new charge which was brought in on August 1,” she said.

“I am an invalid pensioner and I can't afford the $44, so I had to struggle up and down the plane stairs by myself.

“I've got severe arthritis in my knees and just had treatment for my lymphoma in July. I'm in more pain than ever.

“Life is hard enough when you have a disability. And it was hard enough for me to find the money to even fly to Sydney, let alone the extra $44 for assistance.

“A lot of people in this area wouldn't even know about this fee.

“I paid $75 for my ticket on Jetstar and was given all the assistance I needed. But my Rex ticket cost $130 and they still wanted to charge me the extra $44.”

Despite her concerns about the airline's policy, she said the cabin crew had been 'wonderful'.



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